Post Surgery Protocol: What Your Doctor Won't Tell You

One of the more common problems that I have come across over the past eight years of developing athletes has been the management and execution of making a full, functional recovery from knee surgery. Every situation is unique but I have found a commonality in that following a successful surgery, the quadricep muscles essentially turn off, becoming 'sleepy' as a protection mechanism in an effort to protect the surgical repair. It is this REACTIVATION of the quadricep muscles that pose the greatest challenge to any athlete striving to make a successful return to the playing field. Thanks to trial and error, I have found a reliable solution using a combination of an electric stim device (PowerDot) and carefully selected weight room exercises.

How to fire something that won't fire...

The powerdot system in use at california strength

The electric pulses from the PowerDot system cause the muscle fibers within the quadricep muscles to fire and contract, effectively waking up the dormant quad.

When using the PowerDot, I have the athletes implement the Potentiation setting prior to the exercise plan outlined below. The work doesn't stop there, our athletes take the system home with them in between training sessions and are required to use the settings Active Recovery and Massage to continue blood flow and muscle activation.

If only it was that easy...

The road to a full recovery doesn't stop there. After our athletes are cleared by their surgeon, we structure the following types of exercises into a quick yet effective workout.

  • Bilateral Glute Exercises
  • Low Stress Plyometrics
  • Unilateral Exercises
  • Bilateral Isometric Exercises

Here are two sample 20 minute workouts that can be completed with minimal equipment.

Sample 1 - Superset the following for four (4) sets:

Hip Circle Banded Good Morning x 10 reps
Single Leg Jump Rope x 30 seconds (each leg)
Banded Terminal Knee Extensions x 10 reps (each leg)
Isometric Back Extension x 60 seconds

Sample 2 - Superset the following for four (4) sets:

Barbell Hip Thruster x 10 reps
Single Leg Lateral Hurdle Hops (using a six inch hurdle) x 8 hops each leg
Kneeling Hamstring Curl or Single Leg RDL x 10 reps each leg
Weighted Planks x 60 seconds


Disclaimer: The following exercise prescription should only be attempted once you have been cleared by your doctor. The following workout prescription is based off of anecdotal evidence only as seen through my personal coaching experience working with a number of national-level Olympic weightlifters and NFL athletes.